Tag Archives: republican party

American politics isn’t broken. It’s working just fine for the 1%.

Summary: Political commentary often reveals more from its blindness than its insights. For example, a widely-cited analysis at Salon by journalist Andrew O’Hehir tells us some entertaining harsh truths — but avoids deeper, useful insights that would disturb his Outer Party readers (i.e., politically passive managers and professionals).

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

Photo by Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx on 13 April 2016.

Two despised frontrunners, two dying parties & a deeply broken system
By Andrew O’Hehir (journalist) at Salon.

“How did we get here? Trump & Clinton may be the most hated frontrunners in history, dueling symbols of a duopoly in decay.”

He opens with some myth-making, the Left’s efforts to fit events into their standard narrative. It conceals the important dynamics of campaign 2016, things too disturbing for the Left to see.

So here’s what’s happening: Our political system is profoundly broken, and although many of us have understood that for years, this has been the year that fact became unavoidable. Both political parties are struggling through transparently rigged primary campaigns that have made that ludicrous process look more outdated than ever. Nobody cares about the Democratic vote in Wyoming and it’s not going to matter, but when Bernie Sanders dominates the caucuses in that empty, dusty and Republican-dominated state and wins seven of its 18 delegates, doesn’t that sum up the whole damn thing?

O’Hehir is making a purely emotional appeal in defiance of the facts. He gives no evidence that the GOP race is rigged; Trump’s votes have closely mirrored his poll results. As for the Democrats, several political scientists have shown that the results are not “rigged”. NY Times political blogger Nate Cohen has a model showing that “9 percentage points better in primaries than in caucuses“. More seriously, Alan I. Abramowitz (Prof of political science at Emory) has a model of the 2016 Democratic primaries

“This model uses three predictors from the Democratic primary exit polls — percentage of African-American voters, percentage of self-identified Democrats, and region — and it explains 90% of the variance in 19 primaries to date for which exit poll data are available, excluding Sanders’ home state of Vermont…”

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Populism carries Trump to the nomination. He’s completed 1 of 4 steps to victory.

Summary: With Trump leading in polls for most of the coming primaries, let’s review his success in the four keys to winning in November. Equally important is the reaction of Democrats to his success, and what it tells us about the potential for a new broad coalition (like the New Deal) that can defeat the 1%.

The New Deal is as dead as FDR. But a new coalition can be built for the 21st C.

New Deal Button

On January 7 I listed four keys to a possible Trump victory.

  1. Build political organization that gets votes — Done.
  2. Craft a message that appeals to majority of Americans.
  3. Strike a deal with America’s ruling elites. Now they see Trump as a disruptor of a political game that they own. But Trump is both one of them (2nd generation) and a consummate deal-maker (his big book is The Art of the Deal). The necessary alliances will come easily if he wins the nomination.
  4. Luck, such as a recession in mid-year, which could easily happen.

Trump has completed the first task (as I expected). Now he’s working on the second, to more effectively tap the resurgent populism that catapulted him to the top of the GOP.

CNN says that “Trump has hammered Wall Street in recent speeches, wants to raise taxes on the rich and has embraced policies that will hurt many multinational companies.” Michael Tesler (Asst professor of political science, UC Irvine) describes the results as showing “economically progressive positions, combined with Trump’s harsh rhetoric about minority groups, seem to have created a powerful populist coalition that has made Trump the front-runner…”

Polls show the result: broad appeal among Republicans and independents. Even the good liberals at Slate have noticed (“Think Hillary Clinton Will Crush Donald Trump in the General Election? Don’t Be So Sure“). RAND’s Presidential Election Panel Survey (PEPS) shows his success. Slowly our political gurus see this. Bernie Becker in Politico writes about “Trump’s 6 populist positions“. Even more insightful is Jonathon Chait in NY Magazine

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Another smart move by Trump. Continued blindness by Democrats.

Summary:  Trump’s ascent shows the decay of the US political system. We see it in the inability of our political elites to see the forces propelling him or his smart moves, and their clumsy attempts to stop him. If he wins at the GOP convention, the Democrats will have to confront his message. They might find that difficult. Perhaps they know that, and so prefer to mock instead of engage.

Donald Trump and Palin

Our elites, their servants, and those who see the world through their eyes, all have been surprised at every success by Trump. The New York Post shows why. Palin’s endorsement of Trump boosts his support from the Right — where most of his opponents live. The votes he loses are ones he was never going to get. Amidst the mockery, a few see this obvious fact. Such as this by Timothy Stanley at CNN

“In fact, the endorsement is a smarter move than it might first appear. Sure, Palin has been near-invisible this campaign season and, sure, she is toxic to many liberal commentators and moderate voters. But Trump doesn’t need their votes right now. He needs to win Iowa. … the endorsement is God’s gift to Trump before Iowa. Elections in the Hawkeye State are swung by grass-roots activism and the enthusiasm of evangelical activists. Palin may not have exactly handed these over to Trump, but she has surely distracted them from the allure of Ted Cruz”

Showing the Left’s incisive thinking, journalist Charles Pierce at Esquire asks the key question

“There is only one question worth asking about the sudden alliance between a vulgar talking yam and Princess Dumbass of the Northwoods. … What did it cost him?”

Adam Lerner at Politico has an answer: “Donald Trump says he’d tap Sarah Palin for a Cabinet post“. But the tape shows that Tump promised nothing. On “Momma Grizzly Radio” Kevin Scholla asked Trump…

“If there is a Trump Administration, could you see maybe picking up the phone and giving the governor a call? Picking her brain on some things, or perhaps having her along in some official capacity.”

Trump’s reply was that of a competent politician. Smooth but making no promises.

“I’d love that because she really is somebody who knows what’s happening. She’s a special person. She’s really a special person. And I think people know that and she’s got a following that’s unbelievable,”

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Trump, not Sanders, is the revolutionary

Summary:  Journalists and political gurus dismiss Sanders as a wannabe revolutionary while focusing on the minutia of the GOP presidential horse-race. That’s wrong. Trump is a revolutionary, and only seeing the big picture reveals why. Even if he fails (as he probably will), others will travel the trail he blazed.

“Although Nero’s death had at first been welcomed with outbursts of joy, it roused varying emotions, not only in the city among the senators and people and the city soldiery, but also among all the legions and generals; for the secret of empire was now revealed, that an emperor could be made elsewhere than at Rome.”
— From The Histories by Tacitus (~56 – 117 A.D.).

Perhaps true, but not led by him

The Sanders Revolution

Trump has a long difficult road to climb to reach the White House, and his odds of success are small. But his unexpected success so far blazes a path others will follow. For he has shown the hollowness of the American political system. All the things so valued by our political engineers and columnists have proven ephemeral, even unnecessary. Even a Trump defeat shows the possibility of winning the Presidency by defying the authorities and mocking the conventions.

Trump is the revolutionary in the true sense — of achieving power by unorthodox methods, unauthorized by those holding the levers of power. That he does advocate revolution is commonplace, as revolutionaries often promise to purify the political region (or society) and restore old values. Since that is seldom possible, more often they lead to a new future (for good or ill).

Can Trump win?

To see the potentially revolutionary nature of Trump’s campaign see the P2016 website for Democracy in Action. They have data for the national and local campaign organizations for each major candidate. Compare the organization pages for Trump and Jeb Bush. One describes a professional-designed and lavishly funded political machine. The other is an outline or skeleton of a machine. Yet Bush has 5% in the polls vs. 34% for Trump.

Despite the hundreds of full-time professional journalists covering the Republican race, we know little about it. They file hundreds of almost identical stories, a demonstration of the gross overcapacity in the American news media (made worse by American’s disinterest in paying for news).

Perhaps the best guides to assess the grassroots action are the State polls, few though they are. The most recent scores show Trump running strong as the clock runs down to the first contests.

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The four keys to a possible Trump victory

Summary: What might be the consequences of wins by Trump in early GOP primaries? How will journalists and other opinion-makers react? What will our ruling elites do? What might he do in the White House? I believe the conventional wisdom is wrong about all of these questions. Here are better answers, showing the four keys to a Trump victory.

Trump: Make America Great Again

How will opinion-makers react should Trump win GOP primaries?

Events make opinions, as seen by looking at extreme examples from the past. In 1815 Napoleon broke his exile on Elba and marched to Paris. See the headlines in Le Moniteur Universel reporting his progress.

  • The cannibal has left his lair. — March 9.
  • The Corsican ogre has just landed at the Juan Gulf. — March 10.
  • The tiger has arrived at Gap. — March 11.
  • The monster slept at Grenoble. — March 12.
  • The tyrant has crossed Lyons. — March 13.
  • The usurper was seen sixty leagues from the capital. — March 18.
  • Bonaparte has advanced with great strides, but he will never enter Paris. — March 19.
  • Tomorrow, Napoleon will be under our ramparts. — March 20.
  • The Emperor has arrived at Fontainbleau. — March 21.
  • His Imperial and Royal Majesty entered his palace at the Tuileries last night in the midst of his faithful subjects. — March 22.

This is what I expect to see if Trump wins in the early primaries. Americans love a winner (doubly so for our journalists and other opinion-makers). Trump the outcast will become Trump the star.

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